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News
Baby's bleeding brain leads to felony charge; mother released

A 10-month-old baby’s bleeding brain led to a felony charge being filed against a Fairmount woman for neglect of a dependent resulting in serious injury, a Level 3 felony, according to court records.

Doctors say the baby’s brain was pushed off center due to the bleeding, causing an “acute” and “chronic” injury on the right side of the infant’s brain.

Police allege Haley Reanne Sunshine Baker, 25, knowingly placed a dependent child in a situation that endangered the dependent’s life on Nov. 20, 2019 at 600 N. Barclay St. in Fairmount, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The baby was unresponsive and not breathing properly when police arrived on scene, so first responders performed rescue breaths before the baby began crying.

“(The officer) told me that the mother Hailey (sic) Baker did not show much emotion while the child was having the medical event and found it odd,” according to Fairmount Police Department Marshal Richard Dollar’s sworn testimony in the affidavit.

Detectives say doctors called the injuries “unexplainable” and “consistent with abuse,” according to the affidavit.

“I was informed by a hospital staff member that the injury to the child was caused by a (sic) abrupt start of motion and then a (sic) abrupt stop motion,” Dollar stated in the affidavit.

When initially questioned about what might have caused the injury, Baker reportedly told police that the injury could have been caused by her son hitting the infant in the head with a toy.

“The scenario of (the son) hitting (the infant) in the head with a toy was told to (a doctor) and the Doctor (sic) told us that it was impossible to cause that type of injury to (the infant),” Dollar wrote in his report.

Police say there were no cuts or abrasions on the infant’s head, but investigators did find two bruises on the infant’s head, one on the front left and one on the front right.

Baker allegedly told police she was the only adult at the home the day of the incident.

Baker’s sister testified that she’d never seen Baker “act inappropriately” with the infant and reported to police that Baker’s son put a blanket over the infant’s head and struck the infant on the head with a toy car, according to the affidavit.

Baker’s sister reportedly said, “I don’t know why he does what he does to his sister,” the affidavit states.

When interviewed later, Baker told police that her son was mean to the infant and testified that she’s seen him put blankets over her head and hit her. Eighteen minutes into the interview, Baker said, “I didn’t want to say this but she fell of (sic) the bed,” the affidavit says. She reportedly said the fall occurred around midnight or 1 a.m. leading up to the emergency call at 10 a.m.

Police say she didn’t call 911 because she was afraid she would get in trouble.

A man who had come in contact with the infant earlier in the week reportedly told police that Baker’s son put a blanket over the infant’s face and that he was “a very aggressive” and “mean” kid.

Baker testified that she got out of the bathroom after getting ready and saw her son leave the room as the infant cried before the medical incident.

The affidavit says Baker agreed to take a polygraph on Nov. 25, 2019, but no results or mention of the polygraph were put in the affidavit.

An initial hearing took place April 2, 2020, and a jury trial is currently scheduled for Aug. 25, 2020 in Grant Superior Court 2. According to court records, Baker was released from the Grant County Jail on her own recognizance on Supervision Level 3 as she awaits trial.


Local
Matter Park offers socially-distanced opportunity to get outside

Grant County residents enjoyed some fresh air Thursday after weeks of staying safe in their homes away from the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Terri Couse, a Marion General Hospital communications specialist, strolled through Marion’s Matter Park with a black dog named Rocky who lives at the Grant County Humane Society.

“During this terrible pandemic, (Matter Park is) a great place to get some exercise and fresh air,” Couse said. “It’s way too nice.”

Matter Park has been a special place to Couse all her life, she said.

“I was born and raised in Marion. Way back in the days, my parents brought me to Matter Park,” Couse said. “Matter Park, in my opinion, is one of the best assets in Marion, and I think the city does a great job taking care of it.”

James Loftis, the City Wide Maintenance Director, said his team has dusted off their mowers to prepare for spring.

“The grass is getting greener, and stuff is starting to come back alive,” Loftis said. “We’re in the midst of getting all the mowers ready. The girls at the gardens have done a great job.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has taken a toll on the maintenance team, he said.

“This stuff here kind of hit at a bad time. It’s kind of like pushing us back,” Loftis said. “We will be struggling to keep up.”

Many of the workers are working on an on-call status during the stay-at-home order.

Events at the park, including the daddy-daughter dance and the Earth Day celebration, have been postponed.

“You don’t plan for something like this,” Loftis said. “If you don’t have to be around people, don’t. If we all just do what we are supposed to, it’ll get a lot better.”

Although people should practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet apart from each other, Loftis said the park is a great place to come to get out of the house during the stay-at-home order.

“That park is so big that everybody can get out and walk and still have that distance,” Loftis said. “Get out there and enjoy that stuff because you’re going to go stir crazy just being in the house.”

High school sweethearts Marye Savard and Rod Jeffries reunited at Matter Park after finding each other on Facebook.

“I’m surprised she even remembered me,” Jeffries said.

Savard said she had moved away from Marion at the age of 18, returned two years ago, and was visiting Matter Park for the first time in decades.

“I haven’t been to Matter Park in years, and we were just talking about all of the changes over the years,” Savard said.

Jeffries and Savard reminisced about concerts, fireworks, the zoo and the pool that used to be at Matter Park years ago.

“I love the garden they put in,” Savard said. “We miss the zoo and the pool.”

Jeffries said he has been waiting for spring to fully arrive.

“The trees have already started budding,” Jeffries said. “They will have leaves before long, and then it will really get pretty out here.”

Because she has had cancer treatments, Savard said she is careful about coming in contact with the coronavirus, but will continue to enjoy the outdoors.

“My mother always said get out in the fresh air in the sunshine,” Savard said. “We need that. It’s healthy.”


Sports
Emotions of a lost spring sports season

Starting this piece right now is difficult. I’m trying to rein in my emotions and write a coherent column about something I’ve anticipated would happen over the past three weeks: the cancellation of the high school spring sports season.

Shortly after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that state schools would stay closed through the remainder of the school year Thursday afternoon, the Indiana High School Athletic Association followed suit by announcing sports would also be canceled, hopefully only until fall.

While I wasn’t surprised by the announcement, I’ve been taken aback by my reaction to it.

Sure, sports are important to a lot of people, and my livelihood for the past nearly four years has depended on it. But this isn’t about me.

I started following Twitter shortly after the IHSAA’s announcement to gauge reaction from coaches and athletes. I also sent out a tweet directed at the class of 2020, a class of seniors who are dealing with something no other class in my lifetime has faced: a global pandemic.

Obviously the health concerns surrounding COVID-19, and us doing our best to contain and eradicate its spread, are the most important factors in our world today.

If we are going to stop its spread and get back to living like we want to live, everybody has a role. We are in this fight together, like it or not.

Consider yourself a part of a team, whether it be your neighborhood, town, city, state or nation, we have to pull together.

Fight together.

Once we get through our battle with the coronavirus, it’s possible, maybe even likely that this senior class, the class of 2020, will emerge from it as the strongest team of all.

Most of these kids were born in the time surrounding 9/11 in 2001. They don’t know how our society was pre-terrorist attack and have grown up together in the aftermath.

Now, this pandemic has brought an end to their final couple of months of gathering together in schools.

Though everyone will receive their diplomas at some point following the completion of eLearning and online education, it appears the class of 2020 won’t have the satisfaction of walking across the stage, accepting that hard-earned piece of paper from their principal and bringing to an end of 13 years (counting kindergarten) of shared experiences with their classmates.

It doesn’t seem fair. It truly isn’t fair. But this wonderful thing we call life sometimes isn’t fair.

My heart aches for the class of 2020. This unprecedented and historic set of circumstances we’ve all been dealt is being felt by everyone. But short of those dealing with the virus itself, the seniors of this year are being affected the most.

I was moved to tears thinking about these seniors, so many who have had a direct impact on my life as a sports reporter. Selfishly I’ll miss watching their high school athletic careers finish up.

While sadness was much of the theme on social media Thursday afternoon, there was also a good bit of perspective offered.

“Tis’ life. It gets tough sometime,” tweeted Oak Hill three-sport standout Gavin Holz. “But my memories with my class aren’t gonna be blurred by a bump in the road.”

Neither are mine, Gavin.

My hope for the class of 2020 is pretty simple: go out and change the world.

No class in our nation’s recent history has graduated under a global pandemic. That, in my estimation, makes this class of seniors special already.

We can only hope that the senior class of 2020 moves on into their adult lives and writes its own history, and that our world will be better for it.


Local
The latest April 2: Governor orders K-12 schools closed for remainder of school year

Governor orders K-12 schools closed for remainder of school year

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric J. Holcomb Thursday signed an executive order requiring all K-12 schools in Indiana to provide instruction via remote learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19.

To complete the school year, all schools previously received a 20-day waiver to reduce the number of required in-person or remote instruction days to 160.

Schools must continue to provide instruction via remote learning until they complete either 160 instructional days or at least 20 additional days of remote learning between the date of the executive order (Thursday) and the end of the school year. If a school completes 20 days and falls short of the required 160 instructional days, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) can waive the difference.

All K-12 schools will need to submit a plan for review and approval by the IDOE by April 17. The plan can include eLearning, extended learning, project-based or portfolio learning, competency-based learning, partnerships with higher education for increased student supports and other similar methods.

County reports stable staffing levels for first responders

The Grant County Health Department reported Thursday there have been 11 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Grant County.

Grant County Emergency Management Agency Director Bob Jackson said in a press release Thursday that “at this time there are no reported shortages of Healthcare workers at (Marion General Hospital) or any long-term care facility in Grant County.

According to Jackson, Grant County EMS, Grant County law enforcement agencies and fire departments in the county are all currently fully staffed. Additionally, all regional public safety and support agencies, including utilities, are fully staffed and equipped with all mutual aid agreements active and in force, Jackson said.

C-T seeking letters for first responders from community

The Chronicle-Tribune is participating in the national Hearts for Healthcare movement and wants your help!

We are compiling short letters to our doctors, nurses, first responders and others fighting to keep our community safe during these unprecedented times. Please contribute and send a letter to ctreport@indy.rr.com with HEARTS in the subject line.

We will choose the best letters and publish them in an upcoming special section to support our community.

Please search Hearts for Healthcare Grant County on Facebook.com to find a page devoted to sharing thank yous, uplifting stories and photos of people on the front lines protecting our community.

ISDH: 78 Hoosier deaths, 3,039 COVID-19 cases

The Indiana State Department of Health announced Thursday that 474 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 3,039 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total.

Seventy-eight Hoosiers have died to date. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

To date, 16,285 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 14,375 on Wednesday.

The complete list of counties with cases is included in the ISDH COVID-19 dashboard at coronavirus.in.gov/.

Marion cancels council meeting

The City of Marion Common Council meeting scheduled for April 7 at 7 p.m. has been canceled. The next regular Common Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21 at 7 p.m.


News
Oak Hill reports teacher tests positive for COVID-19

As the numbers of presumptive positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise, more local organizations continue to announce employees are testing positive.

The Oak Hill United School Corporation (OHUSC) announced Saturday that one of its teachers has tested positive for the virus.

According to a statement found on the school corporation’s website, the teacher began exhibiting symptoms on March 20.

Corporation officials state the teacher was last present in an Oak Hill building on March 13 and also drove through the corporation’s food distribution on March 18, but did not leave their vehicle.

According to the statement, the teacher’s case is being handled by the Grant County Health Department.

The document also stated that the health department will be contacting anyone who was in close contact with the teacher during the critical time frame of 48 hours prior to when the teacher first started exhibiting symptoms.

Neither the corporation nor health department officials believe any OHUSC students or staff are close contact concerns within that critical time frame, according to the statement.

Due to privacy laws, the teacher’s name will not be disclosed.

According to Grant County Emergency Management Director Bob Jackson, the number of presumptive positive cases has risen to 11 as of Thursday.

Though the number of positive tests is climbing steadily, Grant County Health Department Officer William David Moore said it’s not yet over.

“We are in the very early stages of it hitting our community,” Moore said.

He said he wants county residents to be assured that local officials have anticipated the rise and are going to handle the pandemic.

“As a community, we’ll get through it. We’ll be battle scarred, but we’ll get through this,” he said.

The key, Moore said, is early intervention.

While testing is currently reserved for those exhibiting severe symptoms, Moore said the speed and availability of tests are constantly improving.

Indiana will soon have “rapid result” tests, according to state health commissioner Kris Box, but Moore said those tests will first go to areas more heavily affected by the pandemic.